Centene to expand Obamacare insurance to 3 new states in 2018

Reuters

Reuters

Beyond Nevada, the company plans to offer coverage in Missouri and Kansas for the first time and will expand existing business in Florida, Ohio, Indiana, Texas, Georgia and Washington, according to the release. Insurer exits have reduced competition in many of those states, and left some counties in OH and Washington facing the prospect of having no Obamacare options for 2018.

June 13 Centene Corp, one of the largest players in the Obamacare individual insurance market, is expanding into three new states, despite uncertainty over the future of the legislation under President Donald Trump's administration.

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Between Dec. 31, 2016 and March 31, Centene's membership grew from 537,200 exchange members to 1.2 million.

Clayton, Mo. -based Centene announced Tuesday morning that it would sell 2018 individual and small group health plans in Kansas and Missouri through the Affordable Care Act, commonly called Obamacare.

"We have started the process for seeking all necessary regulatory approvals in targeted states for 2018", Centene said by statement.

Centene's vote of confidence in the ACA exchanges comes as other insurers' planned exits are stoking worries that some parts of the country will have no options on the individual marketplaces next year.

Medicaid-focused insurers have had more success on the exchanges, health policy experts say, because the makeup of the Obamacare exchanges bears more similarities to the Medicaid market and requires low-priced plans. It said earlier this year that it was planning to return in 2018, but it has not detailed what prices it will charge. The insurer specializes in managing the state and federally funded Medicaid program for the poor.

Analysts have said Centene does well on the exchanges because it sticks to customers it knows. Meanwhile, big national insurers such as Humana and Aetna have shuttered their exchange businesses for next year.

The company's statement Tuesday does not say what counties it will sell plans in. The key demographics of those members are also consistent with years past-suggesting the insurer already has a good idea of what those members' medical utilization will look like. This makes it more likely they keep their coverage. Without CSRs, insurers have said premiums would need to increase substantially for 2018 for them to remain in the ACA market.

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